Detail from a Confederate Veterans Convention by Rufus W. Holsinger (Holsinger Studio Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia)

Detail from a Confederate Veterans Convention by Rufus W. Holsinger (Holsinger Studio Collection, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.)

In researching ancestors who served in the Confederacy, you may find the records of the United Confederate Veterans Association (UCV) of help.

Interesting enough, a gathering of Union veterans in the Grand Army of the Republic inspired their former enemies to form the UCV in 1889. Confederate veterans started the UCV, active from 1889 to the mid-1940s, as a benevolent, historical, social and literary association.

UCV_ReunionBefore then, Confederate veterans belonged to local veterans’ organizations such as the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Association of the Army of Tennessee. More than 500 of the 1,885 UCV local camps previously been independent groups or belonged to other veterans’ groups. About 160,000 rebel veterans, 1 out of 4 of the Southern soldiers who survived the Civil War, eventually joined the UCV.

Among the UCV’s goals were “to make and preserve a record of the services of every member, and as far as possible of those of our comrades who have preceded us in eternity.” That didn’t happen, or if it did, not all the records survived.

Official UCV records include:

  • Orders issued by the Adjutant General
  • Correspondence
  • Membership records
  • Printed items
  • Administrative and financial records

Probably of most interest to family historians are the membership records and printed items. Membership records include rosters, lists of camp officers and card files of members. Printed and graphic materials consist of programs, ephemera, photographs and newspaper clippings reporting convention events.

The local UCV groups, called camps, regularly held reunions and state reunions elected delegates to the national reunion. National UCV reunions drew thousands of Confederate veterans from across the country. Over its lifetime, the UCV held national reunions once a year in nearly 30 cities.

Some UCV records and guides to records are available online:

  • The University of Pennsylvania’s Online Books Page carries links to the Minutes of the Annual Meetings and Reunions of the United Confederate Veterans from 1889 to 1926. The page also contains a link to reunion programs for some years of the UCV meetings and reunions.
  • The Louisiana State University Libraries Special Collections webpage contains an inventory of the UCV records in its collections, but you can’t look at those records online. The Library of Virginia also has an online guide to its UCV collection for 1890-1903.
  • Some Southern states have online encyclopedias with general information about UCV camps and their reunions in their states. Two such are the New Georgia Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture that help lead you to veterans’ records.

State archives in the 11 states that formerly made up the Confederacy often have local UCV camp or other veterans’ records. Most of these records were never published, but some were compiled in Works Progress Administration materials from the Great Depression.

For example, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History holds a WPA typescript titled Source Material for Mississippi History, Preliminary Manuscript, Jasper County, which includes a “List of Confederate Veterans of Jasper County” some of whom had died decades before. Check the archives for the state where your veteran ancestor lived after the Civil War for possible records.

Have you had any success researching UCV or other veterans’ records? What other veterans’ records have you found useful?

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